Running and Preventing Injuries
Running: people either seem to love it or love to hate it. Regardless of your stance on running, the number of people taking up the sport is rising. Running, hiking, and walking all shot up in popularity last year because people were looking for ways to exercise during the pandemic safely. With the pandemic closing all the gyms the previous year (and finally re-opening!), people looked for alternatives to their gym routines. With at-home exercise rising in popularity and people being eager to jump back into their gym routines, we noticed an increase in exercise-related injuries here at Forward Motion Physical Therapy.
Starting or re-starting any sport should be a gradual process! Too often, people are eager to jump into an exercise routine or compete with others who have years of experience and then wind up injured and defeated. Injuries often occur because people do too much, too fast, after not doing that activity for a long time. Runners, in particular, have a relatively high injury rate. While running is great cardio, accessible, and virtually anyone of any exercise level can do it, even those with years of experience find themselves getting injured.
What are common injuries?
We’ve already mentioned that runners frequently experience injuries, but we haven’t delved into the injuries and the why behind them. Though there is a seemingly never-ending list of ways that runners can injure themselves, some of the most common running injuries are Runner’s Knee, Shin Splints, stress fractures, and Plantar Fasciitis.
People with Runner’s knee often have pain in their front knee, around the knee, or behind their knee, and it is an overuse injury. Runner’s knee affects runners but can also be found in hikers and cyclists. Runner’s knee is one of the most common running injuries we see in the clinic, and most people see an improvement with physical therapy.
How Runner’s Knee is Treated
Runner’s knee is treated best with physical therapy, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications. Wearing proper, supportive footgear when walking and running is also an excellent way to prevent and improve runners’ knees. Click here to learn more about runner’s knee.
Shin splints are a ubiquitous injury runners face. They are a pain in the shin bone that usually develops after vigorous activity. Running is typically what shin splints are associated with, but they can be brought on by any activity that uses the shins. Generally, shin splints develop when there is a sudden change in activity levels. It can range from the frequency of your exercise, the duration or the intensity of your workout.
How are Shin Splints Treated and Prevented
Wearing supportive shoes, anti-inflammatory medications, rest, and doing flexibility exercises are some of the best ways to treat shin splints. Building your fitness level gradually and wearing supportive shoes are both excellent ways of preventing shin splints altogether! Not only is it important to slowly get into running, but it is essential to make sure your muscles and ligaments are strong.
Strength training may sound obvious, but so many runners overlook it. Working with weights will strengthen your muscles and help prevent injury. In addition to strength training, you’ll want to get into running slowly. A program like Couch to 5K is a great place to start, but please be sure to consult any new workout programs with your physical therapist. To learn more about shin splints, click here.
Stress fractures are amongst the injures runners fear the most! A stress fracture is a small crack or severe bruising on the bone. Stress fractures are prevalent injuries runners face, and over 80% of them occur in the legs. So what causes stress fractures? Stress fractures develop over time due to the microscopic force that happens to the bone while doing repetitive activities such as running. Not allowing yourself to rest between runs and exercises prevents these slight injuries from healing and eventually turns into a pretty nasty injury. Stress fractures are found in the shins, heels, ankles, and feet.
How to Prevent Stress Fractures
One of the best ways to prevent most running injuries is by wearing the proper footwear while running! Wearing the proper shoes that fit will help absorb a lot of the shock of running & help protect your body. Ditch those ancient, heavy shoes you may be using and invest in a pair of high-quality running shoes.
Resting in between runs and using proper form while running are also excellent ways of preventing stress fractures. Using improper form can lead to injuries like neck pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, knee pain, in addition to causing stress fractures. If you aren’t sure about your form, consult with your physical therapist to make sure you are using the correct form while running. Give our office a call or schedule an appointment online if you think you may be experiencing running injuries.
Ouch, my dogs are barking! Plantar fasciitis is caused by strain injury and is a real pain in the heels. The plantar fascia is a thick ligament that connects your heel to the front of your foot. Pain from plantar fasciitis occurs over time, and the pain can be dull or sharp. It usually affects one foot, but some people do experience it in both feet. The pain is generally worse in the mornings when getting out of bed or after a long period of inactivity.
How to Prevent and Treat Plantar Fasciitis
Losing weight, stretching your feet, and wearing proper footwear is crucial to preventing plantar fasciitis. If you have already been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis, physical therapy, rest, icing, using braces, and anti-inflammatory drugs are some of the go-to treatments. Physical therapy is key to treating plantar fasciitis because your physical therapist will stretch your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon. Your PT will show you exercises you can do to strengthen your lower leg muscles and stabilize your walking.
We can help!
If you have been wanting to get into running, don’t be put off by these injuries; running can be done safely and is rewarding. Please schedule a complimentary physical fitness assessment at Forward Motion Physical Therapy by calling 973-799-3314. We can assess your fitness level and tell you which exercises to start with to avoid injury. If you suspect that you already have a running injury, please schedule an evaluation at one of our clinics so we can get you on the road to recovery.